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Peng Shuai Image Credit: AP

The Women's Tennis Association will resume operations in China, the governing body of women's tennis said on Thursday, as it reversed a decision taken in 2021 due to concerns for the safety of former doubles number one Peng Shuai.

The WTA had received widespread praise for suspending its tournaments in the country after Peng said in a now deleted 2021 social media post that a senior former Chinese government official had sexually assaulted her.

Peng then briefly disappeared from public view and later denied making the accusation, sparking fears for her safety.

"After 16 months of suspended tennis competition in China and sustained efforts at achieving our original requests, the situation has shown no sign of changing," WTA said in a statement.

"We have concluded we will never fully secure those goals and it will be our players and tournaments who ultimately will be paying an extraordinary price for their sacrifices.

"For these reasons, the WTA is lifting its suspension of the operation of tournaments in the People's Republic of China and will resume tournaments in China this September." In January, the WTA said it was confident Peng was "safe and comfortable" in Beijing, but still wanted a private meeting with the now 37-year-old before returning to the region, adding it would not compromise on its founding principles.